Skip to main content

Full text of "Linguistic Survey Of India Vol Ii Mon Khmer Siamese Chinese Families"

See other formats


GENERAL INTRODUCTION.    OB.DJ3B OP WORDS.                                    75
idea at all. Thus, TO pi-lung jau (Ahom specimens, II, 3), literally, before year-one
completion, i.e., (the cow which I bought) a year ago. The full sentence runs Twit
Mian-jaw luk-tam 2)honi*ram ro ft«lung jw. It is plain that the jau at the end of the
sentence cannot refer to the verb khan, buy, for that is already supplied with another
jau suffixed to it. The final jau refers only to the final clan so and must be represented
in English by 8 ago,'
In the same way other particles which give the idea of tense bare their own mean-
ings. Thus w, the particle of present time, means f existence'; #a, another particle of
past time probably means the 5 place ' from which action starts; just as tit the particle
of future time means the ' place' to which the action Is proceeding
Hence, too, as each particle affects the whole sentence, Tai languages can afford to
be economical of their use. If in the same sentence there are many words performing
the functions of verbs all in, what we should call, tbe same tenses then only one tense
particle is supplied for all Por example,—poi maw-bo khun cham pa4 ka-md ti po-man
jaU) and he arise and go to the father complete, £.e.s and he arose and went to his father.
Here we must translate both khun, arose, and pai-M~ma} went, as if they were verbs in
the past tense. But there is only one particle of past time, jau, and it refers to both
the- words performing the function of verbs.
Order of words*—In most Indo-Chinese languages the most important help
to distinguishing wbat function is performed by any word is the place which it occupies-
in relation to the other worth in the sentence. Or, to put the matter differently, the
meaning of a sentence is to be grasped from the order of the words which comprise it.
Thus, let us refer again to the phrase quoted on p. 68 ba ba ba la. We know from
the tones that the words mean in order, * three/ 'lady,' 'box on the ear,3 and * favourite
of a prince,' respectively. "We know that the order of meaning is subject, verb, object,
and therefore we are aware that it is the three ladies who boxed the favourite, and not
thau that delicate attention was paid to them by him.
To take the simplest possible example from Ahom. JTtp means * husk,' and Jshau
means ' rice.' Kip Jchau means ' husk of rice * and nots rice of husk/ because the.nile
is that when a word performs the function of a genitive} it follows the word which,
governs it. Hence, assuming that one of these words performs the function of a geni-
tive, we must also assume that Man is tbe one that does so, and that it is governed by
kip. In an Indo Aryan language the order of the words would be exactly reversed.
We should say ' dhan-M bhus&S not ' bhtisa, dhan-ka,' and as the order of words in
a sentence indicates the order in which the speaker thinks, it follows that (so far as the
expression of a genitive is concerned) speakers of Tai languages think in an order
different from that which presents itself to the mind of a speaker of an Indo-Aryan
language.
In the different members of the Tai languages customs differ as to the order of words.
We may take the order of words customary in Siamese as that most characteristic of the
Tai group. Shan and Khamtl appear to have been influenced by Tibeto-Burman
languages in this respect. In Ahom the order of words is altogether peculiar* In Siam-
ese, the order of words is as in English, subject,* verb, object, Adjectives follow the
word they qualify (here differing from colloqtdal English), and genitives follow the
words on which they are dependent. In Shan the rule about the object following the
L2